The removal of 12 sports from those recognised for sports quota admission weighs especially heavy on certain Delhi University colleges — one of them being Lakshmibai College, which has nurtured national women’s baseball champions for years.
While men’s baseball continues as a recognised sport under which DU aspirants can apply for admission under the 5% sports quota, women’s baseball was removed from the list this year.
In February, The Indian Express had reported on how eight current students and three alumni of Lakshmibai College were members of the Delhi state women’s team in the Senior National Baseball Championship. On January 17, this team had won the championship.
Most of the women who were admitted through baseball to the college are from working class families in Delhi, for whom the college presented an opportunity. Its faculty members would pool in money to cover annual fees of sportswomen to encourage them, apart from providing equipment and coupons to buy milk, eggs and juice.
“The biggest casualty are children who have been training for years in the sport, becoming national-level players, expecting that this will pay off in their careers. Students admitted over the last two years had specifically taken admission to facilitate their playing — because they know the facilities this college provides. Their parents were happy and they were getting DU degrees while improving their game. Once the sport stops being supported by the university, even the college will not be able to support these women,” said college baseball coach Ravinder Malik.
“I wanted to do my Masters from Lakshmibai College so I could continue playing baseball. But there’s a fear that certificates I collected over the years may have lost value. Many of us might have been average students because we focus on our game,” said Siji Aiyan, who graduated from the college this year.
A teacher in the college’s physical education department claimed the decision to remove the sports was arbitrary. “The college’s PE departments were not consulted. It is most unfortunate because these sportswomen have won many accolades for the university,” the teacher said.
The standing committee of the academic council had cleared this decision after it was given the green signal by the varsity’s sports council and admissions committee. Among reasons cited were fewer applicants in the 12 sports.
A member of the sports council said removal of a sport will not impact students who have already been admitted under the sports quota. “The university teams will continue to exist and compete in inter-university tournaments as long as the second- and third-year students are still there. We will have to see about what will happen after that.”
But Malik and the PE teacher remain apprehensive. “If new admissions are not taken against a sport, team is depleted. If it is known that it does not have a future in the college and university, the college will no longer fund and support the sports and players the way it used to,” said Malik.